Injury has ruined the New Zealand Cup hopes of Southland owned pacer Captain Dolmio.
The Robert Dunn trained six-year-old was the eighth seeded pacer and a $16 chance with TAB bookmakers for New Zealand's greatest harness race.
Captain Dolmio's injury, which stable manager John Dunn described as a joint problem in the horse's near hind leg, will see the horse sidelined for a minimum of four months.
The injury is not thought to be career-ending, but if the horse was not sent to the spelling paddock now it could become worse, Dunn said.
"He has got an aggravated hind joint.
"It is not a major problem, but we don't want to make it a major one."
What makes the timing of the injury especially cruel was Captain Dolmio had returned from a winter spell in exceptional order, winning two recent trials.
The horse was to start in the Maurice Holmes Vase, at the beginning of this month, but a minor hoof problem initially set the Captain Dolmio's racetrack return back until this Saturday's New Brighton Cup.
Now the six-strong Captain Dolmio Syndicate, who are all based in Otago and Southland, are set to go all season without seeing their promising pacer race.
"He had come back stronger again, we were looking forward to the season," syndicate member and Captain Dolmio's former trainer Matthew Brinsdon said.
"A minimum of four months in the paddock - it will probably curtail the season, there's no point bringing him back for the autumn."
The Grinfromeartoear pacer would have brought genuine two mile form - something that can be a rarity in modern harness racing - to this year's New Zealand Cup.
In three 3200m starts, Captain Dolmio won last season's Tuapeka Cup, set up a record breaking 3-53.5 time when running second to Classie Brigade in the Invercargill Cup and ran second to Heaven Rocks in last season's Easter Cup.
Captain Dolmio's exclusion from Saturday's race does not help fill a depleted New Brighton Cup field.
There were eight initial nominations for the race.
They included last season's Auckland Cup winner Dream About Me and former Miracle Mile winner Have Faith In Me.
There are 25 horses left in contention for the New Zealand Cup after the Dunn stable also withdrew Cullect A Guinness and the Kevin Chapman-trained Locharburn was also withdrawn last week.